Jan 08, 2015
Dear Postpartum Body,
I started writing a draft of this letter in the early days following Juliette’s delivery, but it had a slightly different slant—an angry, disappointed slant. Then, halfway through that missive, in a sleep-deprived haze, I decided to give us a break and closed my laptop. This is the first time I’ve opened it since. As much as I wanted to contribute to Today’s Parent from the beginning of my mat leave, as I had done with Sophie three years earlier, I could only focus on the negative aspects of the birth experience I’d just been through, and no expectant mama wants to read that. Here we are, 19 weeks later, and my feelings about Jules’ arrival have shifted dramatically.
At first, dear Body, I was upset… no, let’s call a spade a spade—incredibly pissed… about the skyrocketing blood pressure that lead to being induced 11 days early. I went to my 38-week check-up to find out I’d be having a baby that day. The bag wasn’t packed—OK, so the supplies were all laid out, but nothing was actually in the bag—Sophie was at daycare, Blaine was at work and I’d only paid for two hours of parking. Ha. With my history of anxiety (during pregnancy especially), I convinced the labour and delivery nurses to keep an eye on my BP for the morning to see if it would come down when I was hooked up to the heart rate monitor and could hear the babe’s ticker working away. No dice. If anything, it shot higher. Then my blood work came back wonky and that was it. Trending toward preeclampsia. All over but the crying (well, there was some crying, too). Blaine arrived from the office and the induction began.
To be clear, there’s no way I would have endangered this baby. I am the woman who went to L&D at least three times during both pregnancies. But I also wanted to make sure my Soph was looked after (she was—thanks, Aunt Pat!) and my colleagues were fine to take over my assignments (they were. Obviously. Total superstars).
By noon the next day, I was at 10 centimetres. It was a pretty easy process, I’ll admit (the epidural before my water broke helped). Our nurse said, “Two pushes and the baby will be here.” Here’s where things went a little sideways. Just like her sister, Juliette was stuck under my pubic bone. With every push, her heart rate dipped and didn’t always respond as it should. She’d also slide back up, undoing all the work. (Pubic Bone, sorry for the swear words I shot your way. It was an intense moment.) Nearly four hours passed. The idea of a C-section was thrown around. At the last minute, the chief OB came in and said, “I’m going to bet the cord’s around the baby’s neck. If you can push this kid down far enough, we can unwrap it and deliver with some suction.” I said, “Oh, I can do it.” My husband said, “She can do it.” My doctor said, “Oh yeah, she can do it.” I just needed the go-ahead. Minutes later, she was here, no intervention necessary (the cord was indeed around her neck once). Juliette Evangeline, 7 lbs, 6 oz. Good lungs, open eyes, full head of hair.
Now I can see, Body, that what you did there was a feat not to be ignored. You signaled that something was awry with that blood pressure indicator, you dilated easily, you allowed me to push hard enough so we didn’t need major help, and you brought our girl into the world safely. Not to mention the 40 weeks before that of growing that beautiful baby. You did that. I have no right to be mad at you at all.
Sure, you’re lumpier and saggier than you used to be. Your hair fell out in clumps this time. You don’t always fall asleep easily, even when there’s sleep to be had. You’re hanging onto 20 pounds of extra weight. But my God, do I love you. You’ve brought me the greatest accomplishments of my life. And for that, I will be forever indebted.